Brain Boost 2019

Welcome to Brain Boost 2019!

This page should serve as the top-level navigation for the Brain Boost adventure. If there’s something you need (or want) here that you aren’t seeing, please do let me know.

Please remember as you go through this process, #LessIsMore! You don’t need a bunch of fancy or expensive stuff. Start super simple. Pick 3-5 basic meals (Basic Recipe Page) that work for you and fit the program and maybe a basic breakfast that is easy to execute.

Let’s get that noggin using ketones. Smarter, better, faster, stronger!

Good background reading on Low Carb eating:

Because this is a casual study among friends, you must take care of your medical supervision on your own. No advice from me can replace proper medical care. Also – very seriously – if you take medicine regularly, your dosage may need to change as your hormones reset in ketosis. For real. !!

Feed Your Brain… Feed It!

Like every other organ in your body, your brains require nutrients to perform. Naturally, the better you feed your brain, the better you will be. The Brain CRAVES FAT! Diets high in healthy* fats (Avocado, Butter, Salmon, Nuts, Whole Eggs, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil) help regenerate nerve function inside your brain, boosting memory, cognition, and alertness.

*Most of us will need to re-set what “healthy” fats are. Might just be easier to tell you what IS NOT a healthy fat: most vegetable oils. Olive oil is fine, but stay away from the soy/canola/safflower/sunflower oils. Butter – contrary to fussing – is GREAT. Margarine = no. Butter = yes please!

The Purpose of this n=1:

Building better students. You are helping yourself and helping my students. The more we understand about interventions that translate well from lab to real human practice (i.e. are simple to implement) for improving cognitive performance persistently, the better. Better performance leads to better decisions, which makes for better drivers and voters. In a (macadamia) nutshell, less road rage and fewer bogus tax mandates for you!

Hahahaha . . . what, too soon?

I’ve stalked data sets and scientific researchers who are willing to admit their work is incomplete, give context for the appropriate uses of what they have discovered and give warnings of where you shouldn’t take the conclusions. On the Extra Resources page you can see the articles, pub med links and doctor videos when you’re ready to do your own literature review. (Of course, please share any new items pro or con when you find them!) But ultimately it will be up to you. As I find better sources these pages will change.

So, is keto a fad? You see it all over Youtube and the – I cannot believe this is true and it hurts my heart – the #1 keto dude looks like a jacked, shaved chipmunk. His stuff is not #theworst, but he’s all over the place on the science. With over 100 years of clinical data showing efficacy for neurological conditions (aka brain use), keto interventions have been around longer than the current Standard American Diet. So why isn’t it more well known? Perhaps because it requires less of basically everything commercially available at scale: fewer grains unless you’re drinking them.  I explain a bit more of how I fell into this here: Bubbles and Butter.

Totally pumped, ready to start! Let’s go shopping.

Think of this experiment as less is more. You will not need a bunch of stuff or super expensive foods. Costs quoted are based on purchasing new equipment and a 60 day supply of consumables. I’ve found my food expense has decreased due less waste from more simplicity. I stick with what I like, what works for me and am no longer buying the aspirational fruit/veggies with “benefit of the month” that I never quite get around to cooking. All told, I’m spending 40% less on food each week. Ground beef, cream and eggs are relatively cheap. There are three flavors for this intervention:

i. Level 1 – you will need ketone sticks ($8-12). Any of the sticks should do.

ii. Level 2 – you need blood ketone meter and should have one with both blood ketone and blood glucose measures. You’ll use two different strips, but one single meter. Here’s the blood glucose and ketone monitor kit I use ($120-150 with strips).

iii. Level 3 – same equipment as level 2 (You may want more strips to measure your GKI more often).

**I do not get paid in any way for these recommendations and they will be changed as we find better stuff.**

How does this go?

  1. Sign up by replying to the email or send me an email from the address you want used for daily communication.
  2. I’ll send you a document confirming you want to play, which level (i, ii, iii) you’re doing, and a link to your initial assessment. Please get the 15-20 minute assessment done before the end of Feb.
  3. You can start watching videos here and on the Extra Resources page to get a better understanding of why this is so exciting.
  4. Feb 25, you will start getting a daily email with a survey and very short video (under 6min?) from me answering your Questions. We need you to respond to the survey each day to keep data clean. It’s 20-seconds or less. Watching the video is totally optional. Have a Q? Hit reply to that email and ask it. Everything goes to me and only me.
  5. Each Sunday I will make a more substantial video addressing either key challenges or bigger scientific questions. Graphs and charts my friend, graphs and charts!
  6. Daily posts and Sunday posts will go live here about the time you get your email. So you fancy RSS ppl can pull it into the reader of your choice.

Get up to Speed on Keto

Add this playlist to watch these to understand a bit more of the why, minus the fake news on ketogenic diets. While some of these are longer than the bit you need from them, I’d like everyone to have the context. So watch on 1.25x or 2.0x with captions turned on if you’re in a hurry. Closed Captioning, a reader’s best friend.

0. Start with the 10-min, 10,000′ level:


Dr. Stephen Phinney on Nutritional Ketosis and Ketogenic Diets (Part 1) – Virta Health – 21:35

Stephen Phinney, MD, Ph.D, explains the science of nutritional ketosis, a natural metabolic state in which your body is fueled mainly by fats and ketones, instead of carbohydrates (glucose). Nutritional ketosis occurs when you follow a ketogenic diet.


What is a Ketone, Really? My Favorite Ketosis Benefits – Dr. Boz [Annette Bosworth, MD] – 7:59

I usually reply to what is a ketone by asking if they have heard the word ‘ketosis?’ This weird word has been creeping into the airwaves. As an internal medicine doctor, I last listened to this odd term back in medical school. While covering the ICU, a patient with Type 1 diabetes injected the wrong amount of insulin over and over until he slipped into in a coma.

(brain no longer believed to prefer glucose see talks from Ben Bikman and Steve Phinney on the page below. Glucose is the thirsty member of the body fuels. It pushes it’s way in. The brain actually seems to prefer ketones, and has a mechanism to pull in ketones.)


Dr. Jason Fung – ‘Therapeutic Fasting – Solving the Two-Compartment Problem’ – Low Carb Down Under – 36:09

Dr. Fung uses innovative solutions to these problems (obesity and type 2 diabetes), realising that conventional treatments are not that effective in helping people. This talk is good for basic understanding of your body chemistry. Even if you have no issues with pre-diabetes or diabetes, please watch this. Fung is a solid researcher who is pushing the idea of very simple modifications once they’ve demonstrated efficacy.


Dr. Boz: 4 RULES FOR KETOSIS – Dr. Boz [Annette Bosworth, MD] – 4:08

Rule #1: Ketosis Can’t Begin if you Have Extra Sugar in Your Blood. No fat-burning until the extra sugar is gone.
Rule #2: Ketosis Can’t Begin with High Insulin in your Blood
Rule #3: Eat fat to burn fat
Rule #4: Measure Ketones


MENTAL BENEFITS of the Keto Diet – Dr. Boz [Annette Bosworth, MD] – 3:49

It’s hard to believe switching to a keto diet is going to improve your mental processes-especially during the initial transition from carbs to fat. As your brain adapts to using ketones for fuel instead of glucose, you get a woozy feeling. Often, this comes with a noticeable slump in your thinking. Your mood dips while your irritability goes up. This can be rough. As those first days lead you into your second week of ketone production, things change dramatically. The brain is one of the last organs in the body to adapt to using ketones.


Beginner’s Keto Grocery List – Dr. Boz [Annette Bosworth, MD] – 12:09

This list is what I would ask you to take with you to the grocery store after you paused. This beginner keto grocery list will help you establish key cornerstones in this diets. Good common sense start particularly if you aren’t totally clear how to start.


Measuring Ketones- Key to KETO Success – Dr. Boz [Annette Bosworth, MD] – 9:37

No matter which way you measure ketones; it is too easy not to do. People fail when changing habits without accurate, real-time feedback. Ketones are unique. You don’t accidentally start making ketones. Measure them. Prove to yourself (and your doctor) that you modified your lifestyle enough to make ketones.

How you “feel” is not a good measurement. Put a number on the page and you’ll be able to track mood/energy/productivity against your compliance.


3 First Steps to Going Keto (Credit Card NOT Required) – KenDBerryMD – 9:33

Instead of spending lots of money on lots of “keto” products, just relax and start here. It’s free, and only requires that you subtract things from your environment, not add things.

Kate note: Dr. Berry is a nice Southern Doctor who seems to be building a future for TV so be wary. He gets a little too far afield for me and makes some little blunders along the way. His wife is also building out a YT channel. I do not recommend her work.

9. – Dr Cunnane 27min, but min 5 is the money shot!

Dr. Stephen Cunnane gave an insightful presentation on brain glucose and ketone metabolism. Dr. Cunnane completed post-doctoral research on nutrition and brain development. He has researched fatty acids and their effect on brain development as well as the effect of ketones and ketogenic diets on brain development. Min 5 gets to the heart of ketone as preferred fuel for the brain. Min 13:45 gives mind blowing evidence in adults. Please watch it. If you have any family members with supposedly age-related cognitive issues . . . this could be a powerful new avenue for care. At 25:35 you’ll see why I went from it’d be nice to try this with folks to must-do-now.

There is growing interest in studying potential therapeutic effects of ketosis on cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. There are even reasons certain athletes may benefit from nutritional ketosis and ketone supplements ─ debunking the long-standing dogma that high carbohydrate intake is required to perform optimally.

10. Dr. Paul Mason – ‘Low Carb from a Doctor’s perspective’

Dr. Mason has been applying this knowledge in treating metabolic and arthritis patients who have achieved dramatic and sustained weight loss and reductions in joint pain. Min 26 – important concept for those particularly more prone to craving for sweets followed by discussion on natural and artificial sweeteners.

Common sense check, you should have your basic blood work done to get the all clear. Here are some doctor recommendations compiled.

Initial and Annually:

Lipid Panel, include LDL particle size
Fasting C-Peptide,
Fasting Insulin,
Vitamin B12,
high sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hsCRP)

Annual and Every 3 Months (particularly if you’re dealing with a condition):

Complete blood count,
Fasting glucose,


uric acid,


albumin/creatinine ratio (urine),
Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C),
alanine transaminase (ALT),
alkaline phosphatase (ALP),





If symptoms of depression are present these have also been suggested as you may have depression triggered by one of these or it may not be depression:

Thyroid panel

Vit D 25 level

Gender hormones

Homocysteine level

Magnesium (rbc magnesium not the greatest)
Zinc level
Iron level
Calcium level (follow up with iPTH if high on normal blood work)

Celiac panel

Lyme disease panel (You can carry without symptoms for years)

RPR (Apparently there are a lot of carriers for Syphilis)

HIV (Please note, testing centers must report any Positive result so a false positive will get reported. That could impact your ability to get/keep health insurance.)

mthfr gene mutation (If b12 is off and homocysteine is high, please get a real doc to help you interpret.)

Tests I’m going with Feb 2019

NMR lipid profile – I’m curious about LDL particle size and figure it wouldn’t hurt to start tracking. As an aside, several of my previously healthy family members have been put on all manner of cholesterol meds. They’re universally fat now. Not a single one knows his LDL particle size. If this sounds familiar, please watch the presentation on Cholesterol / LDL in the youtube playlist. There’s reason to be hopeful you can avoid statins. There’s also reason to know that a high LDL does not mean increased risk. Particle size matters.

HbA1c – how much glucose has been circulating in your blood for real over the past few months.

hsCRP – inflammation marker

Homocysteine – inflammation marker

CBC – complete blood count, gives context

CMP-14 – complete metabolic workup: liver/kidney/electrolytes/bone

(The every 3 months recommendation is CBC + CMP-14, about $44 at the local blood shop.)

Thyroid panel – because I’m curious

This works out to being the Heart Health Extreme panel #3 plus hbA1c test at walk-in labs, about $250 total Feb 2019.

How to (actually) Start:

There are a bunch of ways to start, but one doc swears by this for the first 4 days.

1. Eat any of these foods: avocado, eggs (straight yolk if you like), bacon, olives in any amount.
2. Cook those in butter. (if you cook it)
3. Don’t worry about any other foods or getting it right. Just get into nutritional ketosis.
4. Even before you get headachy, add sea salt to your water. Make sure you’re getting plenty of water.
5. Avoid alcohol.

If you prefer to start with normal foods (like cheese, steak, etc.) that’s fine too. This set up basically gives you fat + fat + a little salt in the bacon and very little protein/carb so it forces the switch. You may see ketone production on the pee strips or through the blood measure within the first 4 days. 7-30 days is the normal range for developing nutritional ketosis. It varies based on how carb-dependent you are now and how flexible your body has decided to be. Don’t sweat it. You’ll get there.

Things to know:

Your body must use up the available glucose before you can get into nutritional ketosis. There’s a supply of glucose in your blood after most meals with protein and/or carbohydrate. That can get used up in a few hours and possibly faster if you have a use for the glucose such as exertion (moving couches in NYC, long walk, triathlon, etc.). Then there’s glucose stored in other parts of the body. You won’t exhaust all of these completely, but you will need to make a dent in the supply within your liver before your body starts using ketones particularly early in this process. The longer it takes to get into nutritional ketosis, the “larger” your liver may be possibly due to pre-diabetes or fatty liver. Get and stay in nutritional ketosis to reverse these conditions. Your brain will kick over to using ketones, but it’ll take even longer than the rest of you. 🙁

When it finally happens, magic.

Glucose is the thirsty bitch of the body fuels. It pushes its way into everything. Unfortunately that means some have concluded that your body prefers glucose. That does not appear to be true. If you want the science, watch these two videos.

Nutritional ketosis is when your body starts to process the fat in your cells for fuel. Insulin needs to be down and glucagon up to create this state. Insulin is your storage hormone. It packs what your body doesn’t need right away into your fat, aka your stored potential. Glucagon helps you reach your potential. Glucagon induces a catabolic state to unpack that stored potential.

So can I just take manufactured ketones to get my levels up?

Please don’t. Exogenous ketones will increase your blood ketone levels, true. But 1. those ketones didn’t come from your body – you didn’t unpack anything to get them, 2. the most commercially available ketones are the salts which have demonstrated no increased efficacy in terms of utilization and 3. over a certain value there’s no reason to think you’re getting daily performance gains. How about those ketone esters? Only clear evidence I’ve seen is from a company selling them. They show more efficacy than the salts, but there are some major gaps in the logic, they’re really expensive ($100/serving) and you don’t need any of this stuff despite the folks (including some docs) selling it. Want to get into ketosis faster or deeper? Consider a water fast. 24-48 hours is a good start. Again, less is more. Literally less.

How much protein does a body need? This does vary. But in all likelihood you’re consuming too much. Once your body has weened off of excessive carbs, you can probably fit more protein back in. If you’re even close to pre-diabetic or are type 2 diabetic, consider our mantra here: Less Is More. As long as you have glucose in your system, the protein will cause an Insulin response. The protein will act carby with glucose circulating. When you get to the fat adapted stage, you’ll trigger insulin less often and be able to consume more protein without much of an insulin response. Protein will act more like fat. Ben Bikman gets into this (videos above). But suffice to say, this intervention (Keto) is low carb, HIGH FAT, not low carb high protein. If you’ve done a good job limiting your carbs (< 20g a day) but you’re not getting into ketosis, you may be eating too much protein and not enough fat. It’s difficult to get enough fat at first. Mental Shift needed.

When was the last time you had whipped cream with a sprinkle of cinnamon as an afternoon snack?

Try it.

You’re smart and your body is even smarter.

You’ve been designed brilliantly. The things our bodies know how to do without thinking = unreal. Appreciate that. Our brains can use multiple fuel sources and ketone bodies provide far more energy per unit than glucose. You should have seen my JAZZ HANDS moment when I learned that. That simple switch can bring you more mental energy, improve cognitive performance, strengthen neural fibers, and repair damage already done – literally better, faster, stronger, longer.


I appreciate your willingness to help me make better students.


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